Mitt Romney Announces He Won't Run in 2016 Presidential Race

Romney, who lost to Obama in 2012, is known as being staunchly pro-Israel; Netanyahu accused in the past of supporting Romney against Obama, souring relations with U.S.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.Credit: AP

Republican Mitt Romney opted out of the 2016 presidential race on Friday after considering whether to run for a third time, telling supporters it is time for the next generation of Republican leaders to seek the White House.

Romney is known as a steadfast supporter of Israel and of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has lambasted President Barack Obama in the past for "weakening our military, distancing ourselves from allies, and being divisive and demeaning towards our friends.”

During the last U.S. election season in 2012, Romney, then the Republicans' presidential candidate running against Obama, visited Israel. He was welcomed by Netanyahu, who also hosted Romney and his wife and sons for dinner at his official residence.

After Obama won the elections, former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert accused Netanyahu of blatantly interfering in favor of Romney, adding that he did so in the name of casion mogul Sheldon Adelson, who backs both Netanyahu and Romney.

On Friday, Romney said in a statement that "you know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president."

He said it is a tough decision for him and his wife Ann, "but we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation."

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